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Why Does Basil Turn Brown After Picking? (Explained)

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The great Basil plant, or Basil as commonly identified, is a culinary herb used to prepare tasty dishes in almost all parts of the world.

It is one plant that many natural food lovers would like to have available in their gardens at all times.

The Basil plant is loved, and it is in widespread use because of its universality in usefulness.

Therefore the Basil plant can be used to prepare a significant number of meals and dishes, adding consequentially to the flavors of all these meals.

Why does Basil turn brown after picking? Basil turns brown after picking because it is live food and therefore contains live enzymes in it. So when it is bruised or torn, it changes its color to brown due to the quick start of the digestion process.

How Do You Keep Basil from Turning Brown?

You should not store Basil for a long time but should use it up as soon as possible. But, of course, it is always much better to use it within a few days of harvest.

But there are quite a few ways to keep it fresh and prevent it from turning brown after being kept for a little while.

Step – 1

Before Basil is stored, it should be make sure that it is absolutely dry. The best thing to do is avoid washing it before it is stored, making it rapidly turn brown.

Even if it happens to get washed because of some debris or dirt on its surface, the water on its surface should be quickly air blown to prevent microbes from rapidly acting on it and accelerating the brown coloration.

Step – 2

Basil should not be kept in plastic containers and wrappers.

Because fresh and succulent Basil parts release water vapor and oxygen, if you wrap these plants in plastics, the condensation of water and oxygen in the plastics would make the Basil turn brown within a short time. 

This would be as a result of microorganisms on the Basil leaves. These microorganisms thrive primarily in wet environments.

Step – 3

Avoid putting your Basil in the refrigerator. The worst treatment you can give to your Basil is by refrigerating it.

It would be best if you instead put it out in the open space with its stems in a container of water. This activity will keep it fresh for a longer duration without it turning brown.

Step – 4

Always expose the Basil to light. If you keep the Basil you’ve picked in the dark for long, it will turn brown.

Light strengthens it and gives it more energy to remain relatively fresh for more extended periods.

Is Fresh Basil Still Good if it Turns Brown?

The color of most foods determines whether they are still healthy for consumption or if you have injured them, but Basil which has turned a little brown or black is considered still very okay for any use at all.

As long as it retains its trademark pleasant fragrance, it is still very okay for consumption unless you notice some level of decomposition and mildewing.

The only sad thing about fresh Basil, which has recently turned brown, is the unsightly color that may characterize the plant.

Unfortunately, this occurrence may give some dishes an imperfect look, making them a little unappealing to the potential consumer.

Although the level at which the Basil has browned will determine whether it is fit for use or not, as for a fresh Basil with the only vice being the budding brown color.

It is safe to use it for any purpose that has not undergone any level of decomposition.

What can I Do With Brown Basil Leaves?

Most people become uncomfortable with using brown Basil leaves, even when they are still very usable.

Now when this is the case, there are several things that Basil leaves that have gotten brown can be used for.

You can use Brown Basil leaves as a dry spice. Furthermore, because you can dry and store Basil leaves for future use, the leaves of Basil plants that have browned but are still very much edible can be preserved through sun-drying.

You can also use any other available drying technique to store it within the range of a few months to three years. Basil leaves that have been browned can be used in fresh vegetable salads.

It is known that Basil adds flavor and color to salads, so if your Basil plants are browned or have started getting brown but have not yet hit the level of spoilage, you can use them to supplement the quality of salads. 

Brown Basil leaves can be used as additives in the sauce. Because of the tastefulness and sweet fragrance of the Basil plant, it is always a good idea to add it to your sauce at the concluding stage of sauce preparation.

The brown Basil leaves can be used in this case, provided they are still fresh, retain the fragrance, and have no iota of mild decomposition. 

You can add brown Basil leaves to sandwiches to boost their flavor. However, as the Basil leaves become brown, they should immediately be picked out from the plants before they wilt.

These brown leaves are then incorporated into lovely sandwiches to bring out the unbelievably amazing flavors of these sandwiches.

Most times, you can use it in place of other plants such as lettuces. 


Apart from its tastefulness, the consumption of Basil leaves has excellent health benefits to the consumer’s body.

Moreover, its varying species grown worldwide have been noticed to help boost the general well-being of the body and the mind.

But the Basil plant is highly prone to injury by even the slightest unfavorable condition.

Because of this, it shows some exceptionally pronounced symptoms whenever you put it through a little bit of stress. 

If exposed to adverse conditions, wrongly harvested or manhandled, it will most likely exhibit these kinds of discolorations that sometimes do not boil down to absolute spoilage. 

So after picking Basil leaves off the plant, it will most definitely turn brown if kept long enough. However, this does not necessarily define spoilage for the plant at that instant.

Therefore other parameters are also compared to determine if the Basil leaves have been wholly injured or not.

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